While people opting out of parenthood are more common nowadays, I still think this decision is largely viewed as strange. This post isn't meant to justify my decision (which I think a lot of people feel compelled to do) or dispel negative stereotypes.
I am writing this because I know there are lots of people who made this choice, or are considering it, and struggling. No matter how sure we may be about our path, there is always some degree of doubt or insecurity, especially when we find ourselves really going against the grain.
There are so many studies examining whether parents or non-parents are happier. There seems to be this intense need to declare a "winner." I have always found that fascinating.
Having children is highly romanticized, from where I hail at least, and women are still led to believe it's the ultimate goal, and the only thing you need to feel fulfilled. Many still hold the view having a child is the only way to live a meaningful life -- while I know so many people get a very deep sense of purpose, and satisfaction, from raising their children, it is not the only way by any means.
I believe our purpose is to experience life from our unique perspective, and be happy -- not simply reproduce. That is just one of the countless experiences available to us.
But that conditioning runs deep, and I struggled at times. I worried I was "weird" or would regret it. There are some pretty unflattering assumptions about women like me, like we are selfish, cold or emotionally damaged. Harsh.
While I don't remember giving this matter much conscious thought in my early adult life, I do know for certain there was never a time when I felt like I wanted children. I was never really "on the fence," and my journey was more of examining why I felt this way so strongly, and getting comfortable with it.
The moment I truly realized how I felt was while doing some exercise from a book. I was to write down a list of things I wanted most, and then rank them in order of importance.
I remember being really into it, and excitedly writing down all my desires without restraint. There was travel, devoting myself to personal growth, inspiring people to live a better life, being self-employed and living life on my own terms. I had a burning desire to be free. All of these things came to pass, and it's wonderful.
And during this exercise, having children literally did not enter my mind, not even as a thought I rejected. Considering this is a major life decision most people make, that it wasn't even on my radar, was telling.
When I would think about having children, I really didn't have a positive response to it. I can be very loving and nurturing, but in all honesty, I have a much stronger affinity towards animals. While lots of parents say something was missing, and children made life feel complete, I've never felt that sense of incompleteness.
I enjoy the company of children in small doses, and have great affection for the kids of friends and family. I think there are lots of great things about having kids,but that urge to have one of my own, just never gained traction.
I remember bringing up the topic with my then-boyfriend, now husband, and he felt the same way. I would periodically revisit the issue with him over the years, and we were still on the same page. So, that is a good thing no doubt.
I Know Myself Really Well
This might sound like a weird statement, but a lot of people really don't know themselves all that well. We get so swept up in people-pleasing, conforming, pursuing what we think we 'should' want, valuing other people's opinions over our own, and ignoring our intuition, the true us never really rises to the surface. There is very little self-reflection and deliberate thought.
When I went about being more conscious in creating my life, there was a lot of consideration about what I wanted to do, be and have.
Many people don't realize this, but most people who make this decision give it a lot of thought, even if they have always had strong leanings in this direction. When you find yourself not wanting to do something most people do, you tend to investigate.
I really dug deep into why I felt this way. I thought a lot about what I wanted out of life. I was honest with myself in assessing my personality, preferences, strengths and weaknesses, and how that would all gel with this life-altering choice. For me personally, I wasn't convinced it would be 'worth it.'
I think I would be a great parent who would raise a conscious child. But as for truly enjoying the experience, and it being the best way for me to grow, learn and expand? My gut offers up a resounding "no."
It made no sense to give up a life that I love for one about which I have serious doubts
Fear of regretting this choice is a major issue for many who have already "picked a side" or are still on the fence. Though I know many who fall into the former category would be very reluctant to admit to this "chink in their armor."
Obviously, I would have no idea how I truly felt about having a child unless I had one.
Is it possible all my fears and doubts would be totally unfounded? Sure.
Is it possible I would absolutely love being a parent, and declare it the best decision I ever made? Yeah.
Is it possible I would experience a total transformation where my preferences, personality traits and vision for my life, morphed into ones more aligned with enjoying the parenting experience? Absolutely.
But considering the impact of this permanent, life-altering decision, that is a pretty big freaking gamble. Having a child would completely change the way I live my life, a life I love. A life I worked hard to realize, and is aligned with what I value most. I'm happy now so if it ain't broke why fix it?
Intuitively, I know I am making the right choice, and we can never go wrong when we listen to the wisdom of our inner being. That went a long way in mitigating my discomfort.
Will people make inaccurate assumptions about me, or quell any jealousy they may feel towards me, for whatever reason, by concluding my not being a mother, makes for a hollow self-centered existence? Quite possibly.
Will there be parents, who having known a life, with and without children, feel very confident in their conclusion I am missing out, made a mistake, and perhaps "pity" me, based on their experience? Without a doubt.
No matter what type of life you live, there will always be someone who has something to say or thinks she knows better than you about how you should live your life. The more we release on that, the better off we'll be. If you know you are making the right choices for you, that is all that truly matters... seriously. It can take a bit for that one to sink in.
I'll never be the woman who is envied because she "has it all." But I don't want it all. I just want what I want.
Is it possible I'll look back one day and regret I didn't have children? Maybe. I can't know how 50- or 60-year-old Kelli will feel. But I don't know how much regret is possible for a choice I never wanted to make. I highly suspect any contemplation on the path not taken will be borne more of curiosity, than lament.
Kelli Cooper is a blogger and coach, with a focus on law of attraction and conscious creation. If you want to learn more about her, check out her blog Life Made to Order